China's contradictions are many. This week we saw the Communist Party propose a constitutional amendment lifting the ten year (two term) limit on the Presidency. Critical remarks were blocked on Wechat - China's Facebook.
Lawyers have been disciplined for "fighting words" and what we would consider at most discourteous remarks about the government or Party. Committee to Support Chinese Lawyers, housed at Fordham, has documented these abuses.
On the other hand the legal system continues to advance in competence and professionalism. But all within the bounds of the ordained order - in which the CP's leading role is enshrined in the Constitution. Boston College Law Professor Judith McMorrow and colleagues heere explore the contradictions in practice. - gwc
Lawyer Discipline in an Authoritarian Regime: Empirical Insights from Zhejiang Province, China by Judith A. McMorrow, Sida Liu, Benjamin van Rooij :: SSRN
On paper, the state-run lawyer disciplinary system in China serves multiple interests: client protection, maintaining the reputation of the legal profession, upholding the rule of law, and safeguarding the party-state authority. This Article assesses which of these interests dominates in the lawyer disciplinary process by analyzing 122 published lawyer discipline cases from Zhejiang Province from 2007–2015. These records of lawyer discipline evidence an authoritarian political logic of attorney discipline, with punishment most clearly serving to safeguard the Communist Party’s rule by keeping lawyers in bounds and tightly tied to their law firms.
Subordinate to this are other state interests such as upholding the legal system and rule of law, as well as private interests of protecting firm income. Client protection is a secondary interest at best, with only a handful of cases having clear client-protection goals. The dominance of party-state interests reflects not only the socialist legacy, but also the persistence of an authoritarian legality in contemporary China.